- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The mayor should step aside.

What a tangled web was weaved even if they all did not intend to deceive.

Hillary Clinton. Former and current D.C. mayors. Uber accounting firm Thompson, Cobb and Bazilio. Civil and women’s rights leader Dorothy I. Height. Chartered Healthcare. A legion of others.

They all are connected to Jeffrey Earl Thompson, identified Monday in federal court as “Uncle Earl” the man who funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into a shadowy campaign to get Vincent C. Gray elected mayor in 2010.

The man whose kindness and fund-raising acumen delivered to goodwill causes and organizations.


SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure


The man whose ruthlessness could make and break the rungs of a political ladder.

The man whose downfall now calls for the current mayor of the nation’s capital to step aside.

Thompson pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to two federal conspiracy charges.

The damning legal and credibility ramifications stem from 1) Mr. Gray giving Thompson a campaign wish list; 2) Mr. Gray agreed to keep Thompson’s assistance “secret”; and 3) Mr. Gray referring to Mr. Thompson as “Uncle Earl.”

All along the way of this three-year-old investigation, Mr. Gray has iterated his innocence, sometimes testy and sometimes not.

Mr. Gray’s bottom line was always that he did not “break” the law.

Thompson in his allocution and federal prosecutors in open court said otherwise on Monday.

While our justice system calls for everyone to be deemed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, evidence says that Mr. Gray had firsthand knowledge of the illicit scheme, which included straw donors.

Also, several Gray campaign aides have already acknowledged their roles in the “shadow campaign.”

So at this juncture, it’s a fool’s errand for Mr. Gray to continue doing what he’s been doing amid the profound revelations made Monday.

Yet that is exactly what the mayor did.

“Lies,” Mr. Gray said. “My story has been the same from the very beginning, it is not changing now.”

The mayor also said, “I won’t change my story. I won’t change my demeanor. I’m the same person I was three-and-a-half, four years ago and I won’t be a different person.”

The call is not to change his story or become a “different person.”

The call is to resign.

Resign so as not to derail or make a farce of the April 1 Democratic primary.

Resign so the mayor can focus on himself.

Resign because Mr. Gray and apparently those advisers closest to him never noticed the $683,000 infusion of support on the campaign trail or in neighborhoods around the city.

Resign because the 2010 mayoral election was stolen.

If this were “Scandal,” Shonda Rhimes could rescript a second season.

But see, if what happened in court Monday is all “lies,” as the mayor said in his sixth-floor city hall offices, then everyone appears to have been caught in that tangled web, but the mayor.

It’s possible that that is indeed the case, here.

But it’s unlikely — unless U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. plans to hit Thompson with perjury and obstruction charges.

It’s a confounded situation, and the mayor needs to do the right thing.

Quit while he’s ahead.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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